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Where Tennessee Football Lands in Way-Too-Early Rankings

Tennessee Football
Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton III wearing the traditional orange and white football uniform. Photo By Kate Luffman/Tennessee Athletics.

Even though the National Championship hasn’t taken place, there already looks to buzz around the 2023 college football season.

Over the weekend, the Action Network’s Brett McMurphy released his “way-too-early” College Football Top 25 for the 2023 season.

Despite a strong close to the season with a victory over No. 7 Clemson in the Capital One Orange Bowl, McMurphy does have Tennessee falling in comparison to where they will end the 2022 season. There’s still respect for Joe Milton III and Tennessee, but only just enough to place the Vols into one of the final eight spots.

McMurphy has Josh Heupel’s Tennessee Volunteers coming in as the No. 18 team in his way-too-early 2023 rankings.

McMurphy also notes seven schedule highlights for Tennessee next year:

  • Sep. 2 – vs Virginia (Nashville)
  • Sep. 16 – at Florida
  • Sep. 23 – vs UTSA
  • Sep. 30 – vs South Carolina
  • Oct. 14 – vs Texas A&M
  • Oct. 21 – at Alabama
  • Nov. 18 – vs Georgia
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Action Network’s rankings have Tennessee as the fourth-ranked team from the SEC behind No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Alabama, and No. 6 LSU.

Other notable way-too-early spots include Clemson at No. 9, TCU at No. 11, Texas Tech at No. 14, Texas at No. 17, Tulane at No. 19, and Pitt at No. 22. There are no other SEC teams apart from Georgia, Alabama, LSU, and Tennessee.

There’s no question that Tennessee will have to replace some incredibly talented playmakers next season – in addition to a new playcaller/offensive coordinator following the departure of Alex Golesh. Tennessee will be replacing Hendon Hooker, Jalin Hyatt, Cedric Tillman, Princeton Fant, Darnell Wright, Jeremy Banks, and Trevon Flowers at the minimum. Throw in the possibility of Jerome Carvin and Juwan Mitchell and there are certainly question marks all over the place.

But the Orange Bowl against Clemson did prove that while the ingredients may look different during the 2023 season, the mindset and the goal are still set to be the same. Led by Joe Milton III, Bru McCoy, and Squirrel White next season, Tennessee’s offense will still want to attack teams with tempo and speed like they have the past two seasons. On the defensive side of the ball, it’ll be players such as Aaron Beasley and Joshua Josephs stepping into the biggest spots on the field.

Tennessee began the 2022 season not even on the AP Top 25 poll. The Vols sat as the first team on the outside looking in with 180 votes received, still more than 50 away from then-No. 25 BYU. After starting the season with a win against Ball State, though, Tennessee entered the poll and never looked back. Tennessee rose from unranked to No. 2 in the AP poll in just nine weeks as the Vols also boasted a No. 1 ranking from the College Football Playoffs at the time.

Eventual losses to Georgia and South Carolina did knock Tennessee back to No. 9 in the country as the Vols held a Top 10 ranking from Week 4 until the end of the season.

Where do you think Tennessee Football will be ranked entering the 2023 season? Is No. 18 too high? Too low? Sound off in the comments section below!

The Action Network’s Way-Too-Early Top 10 is as follows:

  1. Georgia
  2. Alabama
  3. Michigan
  4. Florida State
  5. Ohio State
  6. LSU
  7. Penn State
  8. Washington
  9. Clemson
  10. Oregon

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15 Responses

  1. How does Clemson still end up over 5 spots ahead of us?? We dominated in the Orange Bowl with pretty much the team we will be using next year. On top of UT having major spotlight getting several 4 and 5 star players..granted the majority won’t play until 2024 but still…

  2. I thought they would have been raked a little higher, maybe the 10 to 15 range, just because of their success this season.

  3. Looking at the schedule, Tennessee has a reasonable shot at 10-2. That would be with losses to GA and BAMA. A&M is hard to predict what they will look like. And the Florida game is at Florida. They always ay is tough. And who knows what SC looks like. They seemed to really pick up steam. I would think we should start somewhere around 12. If we can pull out another 10 win season, should be somewhere in 6-8. Of we lose to A&M and Florida… Well 18 seems about right or a little lower.

  4. Alabama 2, LSU 6 and Clemson 9. We beat all 3 and we’re 18. Lol. I know I know …but Bama. Doesn’t matter, all we have to do is win and it’ll all come out in the wash. Go Big Orange!

  5. Tenn did not Dominate Clemson. Actually, Clemson started a freshman QB, 3 Freshman WR, 2 freshman CB and was up and down the field on a veteran Tenn. Given the lack of experience with what Clemson started and not playing together until the Orange Bowl its obvious with a spring and summer practice Clemson probably wins the rematch easily if played. Never look at a Bowl game results. Look at the potential for next season

  6. Just right don’t start them to high it really don’t matter to start the season.

  7. You all didn’t have any faith in Tennessee this year because of the South Carolina game but Tennessee polished off the season very well who by the way you all said was playing with nothing but back ups. Seams to me they put it on Clemson pretty bad. And you still ranking Bama over the Vols what a joke. I guess Tennessee will have to prove once again that there a contenders for the top spot. Don’t get me wrong hooked was really good. Trouble is Joe is just as good too. Proof as they say will be in the pudding. One last thing I don’t see no other quarter back throwing like Joe does do you ?

  8. What a shame after the hard work we put in this year to put us all the way down again to 18. Pay no attention to the ranking just play hard and win all the games. Beat Bama beat Georgia go Vols!

  9. These people are clueless, thats why they do a way to Early poll so they can claim it as the reason why they don’t know what they are talking about. If they do it closer to the beginning of the season and are as clueless as this ranking then they would get roasted for it and would not have any excuse for how ridiculous it is.

  10. You need to get a job at burger king. You have no clue what you are talking about..

  11. Tennessee don’t get no respect so they have to go out there and get it it’s just like when we went into the National Championship in 98 everybody hollered Florida State’s going to kill us they got proved wrong and they will next season too

  12. Hey Swofford, Tenn beat Clemson. A fact.
    It was not with a veteran team (as you stated) and neither was all Clemson’s team freshman. I love how you justify getting beaten by the Vols in the Orange Bowl, saying it was because a few freshmen played for Clemson yet the Vols were without several starters including Hendon Hooker (the top QB in the country), and 5 more of those were starters including the best receiver in the country Jalin Hyatt, plus other slackers Cedric Tillman, Trevon Flowers, Brandon Turnage and Jeremy Banks the leader of our defense! 😂 Every major sports media outlet in the US says it was a dominant victory not just the Vol fans! You’re in denial.

  13. How many games did bama barely win quite a few the 2 games we lost 1 was bs ga and the points between wasn’t that much the other was sc and they blew us up but all of our other games we had either a 14 plus point lead or it was over 28 points if not higher we lose a little talent really 4 players that all have very close equals already on the team wake up bama is t bama of old and Tennessee is on the rise the past 2 seasons is all the proof you need the talent we have coming in is far greater than what’s going out top 10 or better!

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